Current and former Metro Transit employees have penned a letter to officials asking for action to better serve riders of color.
Addressed to Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle, regional administrator Meredith Vadis and general manager Wes Kooistra, the letter asks for a number of changes revolving around fares, policing and more.
“We write to you to demonstrate our shared accountability and ask you to support actions we think are needed to empower our community for years to come,” the letter, written late last month, reads. “We are humbled and emboldened by the leadership demonstrated by our riders. We’ve learned from them that we can’t expect different outcomes from the same actions, regardless of our intentions.”
Among the actions the letter, employees ask Metro Transit to increase engagement with communities of color, who they point out are disproportionately likely to ride public transit.
The letter also asks that Metro Transit be more transparent with community members about decisions like Metro Transit Police Department staffing and new projects.
Employees asked that Metro Transit commit to maintaining service during future demonstrations like those following the killing of George Floyd. For several days after the unrest began, Metro Transit suspended bus and light rail service.
The letter calls for a civilian force to help enforce fares on Metro Transit, rather than police officers.
Legislation was introduced at the Capital that would establish such a program, but it failed to get to a final vote. Under the legislation, unarmed officers would also help with outreach to people experiencing homelessness.
“We wholly support systemic change that persists longer than the tenure of bold leaders,” the letter reads. “We strongly believe the actions outlined above, paired with a commitment to create more external accountability, create a framework on which we can build the just, equitable system our riders demand and deserve.”